It’s November and that means it’s NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. For those of you not insane enough to write, it’s the month that we writers stick our butts in our chairs and don’t move until we’ve churned out 50,000 words. If you listen closely right before midnight on November 30th, you’ll hear a sound much like that one when you rip a bandage off a skinned knee. That’s our butts as we collectively remove ourselves from our chairs and go back to a normal life. Or at least what could be considered normal for someone who stares at a computer screen talking to invisible people most of the time.
Dogs don’t understand that, and that’s one of the reasons Izzy’s no help during NaNoWriMo.
When I talk to the screen, he thinks I’m telling him we need to go outside or play with the ball or eat dinner or — the most exciting–go get a treat. He comes to my side, sits his little self down on the floor, cocks his head and barks once. If I don’t quite get it and don’t move immediately, his tush comes off the floor and he goes into a puppy bow. Heaven forbid I continue talking to that invisible person on screen, because then it’s a full-blown insistence for my attention — and an immediate walk. Do not pause, mama, do not talk to that person in the screen, do not tell me to wait ten minutes. Now. Walk. Pee. Poop.
Fifty thousand words in one month. 1667 per day. 5.5 pages a day. Or maybe 3000 words on a weekend day. 7-10 pages on a Sunday. 2-3 every other day during the week. And if you write by hand, a cramped fist. If working on a computer, stiff shoulders and a crick in your neck.
One good thing about NaNoWriMo when you have a dog is that you are forced to get up before the sun rises to take the little bugger for a walk. Izzy forces me up before the sun stripes the sky with fuschia, pumpkin and robin’s egg blue. Bleary-eyed with my brain still out of gear, I negotiate the dark streets with him running before me, determined to examine every telephone pole and pee on every bush. While he explores, I kick the novel-writing mind into gear and think about the next scene I will write, consider what the character will do and how those actions will affect other characters, what the actions will impact further into the novel, and whether I should wait that scene for a time that’s more apropos of the story. As Izzy paces back and forth dozens of times looking for the perfect place to poop, I’m considering whether to flesh out the description of a scene I wrote the previous day and whether to take time from creating the requisite 50K words to mine back over the pages already developed to see whether they should be shifted around or rewritten. But the point is to move forward like the boats that split icebergs. Constantly forward. Nothing to do but to forge ahead.
Dogs never move straight ahead. Their traffic patterns run in swirls and squiggles and include squeezing out pee drops so they can let others know they’ve been there. A NaNoWriMo for dogs would start on November 1 and end in July (the previous July).
What Izzy DOES understand about NaNoWriMo is that occasionally I get stuck. When that happens, he does his job quite well. He moves into my lap, lifting my hand with his nose so that I know my job is now to pat his head or rub his stomach. Taking a break is most important in NaNoWriMo for it is in those moments that the creativity creeps in and the mind is refreshed.
I guess Izzy knows more about writing novels than I give him credit for.